Archive: February, 2014

Interview with Jackie McLean by Steve Lehman

photo by thomas.rome

photo by thomas.rome

Here is a 2000 interview with alto saxophonist Jackie McLean conducted by Steve Lehman in Jackie’s Connecticut home. The interview is posted on Ethan Iverson’s fantastic DoTheMath blog, which, if it isn’t part of your regular reading, should be. Much of the interview is about composing, like this:

JM:  The first person to make me feel as though I could write something and it would be worth something, was Miles. “Dig” was the second thing that I ever wrote. 

The first thing I wrote I’m ashamed to say was so corny, on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” when I was about 15. I’d been playing for about a year. And I’d started to learn about the tunes from going to Bud’s house all the time. Like that “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and “Hot House” were the same tune. 

“Oh, yeah, Tadd Dameron took ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’, which is like a standard, and wrote this other melody. So, I’m gonna write another melody on this.” You know. So, I wrote this little sad melody. 

And then I wrote “Dig” when I was about 17 and a half or 18. That’s when I went down to the Birdland and sat in with Miles, and then went to his house the next day. And he had asked me if I had any tunes and I told him yes, and I played “Dig” for him. 

And right away he said, “Oh, show me that.” You know? And I played it for him, and we played it together. And then I started working with him, and I started learning his repertoire. Of course then Sonny Rollins was in the band too, and Sonny had his tunes that he wrote. We used to do “Wee Dot” and “Conception.”

One night Miles told me to come down when he was working with Coleman Hawkins in Birdland. Miles said, “Come on down tonight, I want you to check out something.” I went down. And I looked up. And when Miles saw me come in and sit at a table he whispered something to Coleman Hawkins and he counted off. And I saw Coleman Hawkins play “Dig” with Miles.

Click here to read Interview with Jackie McLean by Steve Lehman

—Peter Blasevick

An interview with jazz saxophonist Chris Potter, resident artist at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

chrisPotterA quick interviews today from saxophonist Chris Potter. Fresh off an August 2013 show at the Stanford Jazz Festival, Potter sat down with The Stanford Daily to discuss influences on his work, his experiences as both a bandleader and a sideman and the demands of being creative. From the interview Potter talks about listening to contemporary artists:

Chris Potter: The music that I listen to that’s more recent, a lot of it is not necessarily jazz but maybe [is] classical or pop. I don’t know why that is exactly. It might be that I’m just too close to it. A lot of the jazz records that are being made are by people that I know and am friends with. I know them personally, so I go out to listen to them whenever I have the chance. I don’t feel influenced by them the same way as when I listen to a Coltrane record. I might listen to their records and say, “OK yeah, he really expressed himself well on this one.” But that’s a lot different from listening to Coltrane, whom I never had a chance to hear in person. And I think if I wasn’t in the middle of the scene, in New York, it’d be a very different scenario.

Click here to read An interview with jazz saxophonist Chris Potter, resident artist at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

—Peter Blasevick

Two Jack DeJohnette audio interviews

JackDeJohnetteHere are two podcast interviews with the legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette from the AllAboutJazz site. In 2011 DeJohnette discusses his famous cymbals and creating his signature sound. The following year DeJohnette talks about the next phase of his storied career, his induction as a 2012 NEA Jazz Master, and the multiple projects he took to the Newport Jazz Festival that summer.

Click here to listen to Two Jack DeJohnette audio interviews: 2011

Click here to listen to Two Jack DeJohnette audio interviews 2012

—Peter Blasevick

Albert Ayler—The Truth Is Marching In

albertAylerMorning all! Here is a great 1966 interview with saxophonist and innovator Albert Ayler from Downbeat Magazine conducted by Nat Hentoff. From the interview, Ayler talks about his lack of commercial success:

In a restaurant-bar in Greenwich Village, tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler was ruminating on the disparity between renown and income. In his case, anyway. Covers of his albums are prominent in the windows of more and more jazz record stores; references to him are increasingly frequent in jazz magazines, here and abroad; a growing number of players are trying to sound like him.

“I’m a new star, according to a magazine in England,” Ayler said, “and I don’t even have fare to England. Record royalties? I never see any. Oh, maybe I’ll get $50 this year. One of my albums, Ghosts, won an award in Europe. And the company didn’t even tell me about that. I had to find out another way.”

Click here to read Albert Ayler—The Truth Is Marching In

—Peter Blasevick

Like It Is: The Branford Marsalis Interview

branfordMarsalisBranford Marsalis usually has little problem sharing his thoughts on things, and this interview is no different. The great saxophonist takes on classical vs. jazz, virtuosity versus simplicity, musical maturity, and many other topics in this 2012 interview with JazzTimes. From the interview:

JT: McCoy once told me in an interview that he remembers seeing Trane playing in a band in Philly where he was walking the bar.

Marsalis: Yeah, Benny Golson told me that great story about Trane, that he had decided that he didn’t have enough rhythm-and-blues in his playing, so he took a gig walking the bar but didn’t tell his boys because he didn’t want them to see him. And they found out. Somebody came and said, “Trane’s walkin’ the bar!” at whatever the club was. They all ran there and then Trane got to the edge of the bar and saw them and said, “Aw, shit!” It’s a great story the way Benny tells it.

Click here to read Like It Is: The Branford Marsalis Interview

—Peter Blasevick

Jason Moran: Sticking Tricks and Striking Chords

jasonMoranHere is something very hip from Nextbop. Last spring at SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, pianist and composer Jason Moran and his Bandwagon (with guitarist Jeff Parker) played as Bay Area skateboarders rode a mid-sized half-pipe situated in front of the stage. Recently in his studio, Moran took a break to talk with Lucy McKeon about the process and aesthetic of the skateboarding collaboration, the conceptualization of what a jazz performance can be, and what he’s working on now.

How did the idea to collaborate with the skaters come to be?

So anytime an institution approaches me about, “Oh will you do something for us? Or make a program for us?” I try to think about, very selfishly, what is my relationship to the city? And start there. So my relationship to San Francisco began when I was a kid, where my parents took us maybe two or three times in our young lives. One of those times we took our skateboards – we were way into skateboarding in Houston – black folks skateboarding, there weren’t many, and there was like one on a professional team, so… but we were all into it. All the cats in my neighborhood were all into skating so when they knew we were going to San Francisco they were like, “Oh shit!” So we brought our skateboards and went skating there.

So when the jazz people [of the San Francisco Jazz Center] came to me and said, “Can you curate two weeks of program?” I thought, “Let’s do something outside, have some ramps, and play for the skaters, like it’s an open jam session.” And they were like, “Oh, well we don’t know if we can do it outside, but we can do it inside.” So I was like, “Oh shit, that’s crazy!” So that’s really the genesis of it.

Click here to read Jason Moran: Sticking Tricks and Striking Chords

—Peter Blasevick

Gary Bartz Talks About Drug Use Among Jazz Greats

Here is a very interesting video interview from iRockJazz on a topic that jazz musicians don’t often like to discuss: legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz talks about drug use among jazz greats, how he got hooked, kicking the habit and the effects on the music.

—Peter Blasevick

Giants of Jazz: Tony Bennett in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

tonyBennettToday a cool two-part interview with the legendary Tony Bennett from the CBC Radio-Canada archive.

The exact date of this interview is not known, but it is almost certainly from the mid-’60s when Bennett was one of many big acts that came to Vancouver to play with the fine house band in residence at the Cave Supper Club on Hornby Street.

Bennett expressed gratitude to singer Perry Como for supporting his earliest forays into television.

Bennett’s great respect for arrangers is evident in this interview. Among the many names he drops in the conversation is that of Robert Farnon, a Toronto-born arranger, orchestrator and conductor who was admired by Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and others.

Click here to listen to Giants of Jazz: Tony Bennett in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive Part 1 and Part 2

—Peter Blasevick